26 August 2019
People wear masks to avoid getting the flu, but many often forget to strengthen their own immunity. Photo: Reuters
People wear masks to avoid getting the flu, but many often forget to strengthen their own immunity. Photo: Reuters

Strong immunity helps ward off the flu

Spring has arrived in Hong Kong, but the flu season apparently has not left; many people are still getting sick easily.

People wear face masks when they go out, get flu shots and wash their hands frequently as precautionary measures, but they often forget to strengthen their own immunity.

As a natural defense against germs and diseases, a strong immune system is worth cultivating through a balanced diet, healthy fat intake, and regular exercises.

A balanced diet goes hand in hand with the consumption of high-quality protein. Protein is a vital component of our body cells. It forms antibodies, a type of protective protein that combats foreign substances.

According to the food pyramid, adults should acquire an adequate amount of meat and fish products, eggs and legumes for sufficient protein supply. A portion or two of dairy products such as yogurt is also recommended for they are loaded with protein as well as probiotics which help maintain a healthy digestive system and strengthen the immune system.

Incorporate the “two-plus-three” rule into your diet by eating two portions of fruit and three portions of vegetables every day.

Leafy greens are rich in fibers and vitamins such as vitamins A, B, and C. They help the body get rid of toxic wastes. Veggies and fruit also contain a lot of antioxidants such as β-carotene and lycopene which protect cellular DNA from damage by erasing free radicals in the body, thereby ensuring the function of the immune system.

Healthy fat intake is indispensable to strong immunity. Omega-3 is one of those fatty acids that are essential to good health. It lowers the risks of cardiovascular diseases, improves the elasticity of cells and fights inflammation.

Since the body can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids on its own, the American Heart Association suggests an intake of fatty fish such as salmon and tuna twice a week. Vegetarians are recommended to acquire them through walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds and other nut products.

One must also exercise regularly. According to the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercises every week.

Scientific research suggests that regular exercise lowers the risk of getting upper respiratory diseases and reduces their severity.

Physical training can greatly enhance metabolism and activity of immune cells. It also facilities blood circulation, improves heart and lung functions, fights against bacterial invasion and reduces the risk of getting chronic diseases.

Doing exercise can also reduce psychological stress, stabilize our emotions and relieve burnouts, thus contributing to strong immunity.

This article appeared at the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 20

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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